By Maya Henry
These peculiar times have shown how vital it is to have a strong support system. For many LGBTQ+ youth, a GSA is that community and is often the only place where they can be their proud, authentic, Queer and Trans selves. Unfortunately, many are quarantined with unaccepting families and no longer have access to that safe haven. But there’s a solution: transitioning to virtual GSAs. Connecting online can help restore that secure and comforting family we had at school, inform people about what’s going on politically and socially in the country, and ultimately organize in support of the national uprisings.
Here are some topic ideas for your virtual meetings:
1. Deep-rooted racism can still be found in LGBTQ+ spaces and events. With your GSA, have an honest conversation about why it’s important for Trans and Queer folks of color to be included in these spaces as leaders and participants. Share how LGBTQ+ Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) face astronomically higher rates of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, with 26 Black trans lives lost due to hate crimes in 2018 alone. Reinforce the fact that BIPOC Queer and Trans voices matter and need to be heard.
2. Talk about the Black Lives Matter Movement and ways that LGBTQ+ young people can mobilize and show solidarity. Signing petitions, contributing to protest bail funds, and calling local representatives are all ways to help.
3. Discuss Indigenous activism and ways to support the removal of racist mascots, team names, and statues. Start by teaching club members real Indigenous history and unlearning the stereotypes taught in textbooks.
4. Mental health is another essential topic, including how to address feelings of loneliness and isolation during COVID-19. Queer and Trans teenagers are already susceptible to higher rates of depression and suicide, so it is especially important for all GSA members to know how to take care of their minds and bodies. Guided conversations and wellness activities to practice with your GSA can be found here and here.
5. With the pandemic and social uprisings dominating the news and our social media feeds, it is too easy to miss or ignore state and federal legislation or executive orders that impact LGBTQ+ people in severely detrimental ways. For instance, in recent months, the Trump administration rolled back part of the Affordable Care Act that protects Trans people from healthcare and insurance discrimination. It is crucial to know how lawmakers are trying to silence us and infringe upon our rights—and how to revolt. Keeping your GSA up to date on these bills accomplishes both.
It is now necessary for all LGBTQ+ youth to learn and raise their voices. By collectively organizing and informing Queer and Trans youth, there is no predicting what can be accomplished. One thing is for sure: Change is here and virtual GSAs can play a major role in making our communities and world safer and more just for the next generation.